Three for Fedotenko
Ruslan Fedotenko earned first-star honors in the game with his three points (1G-2A) against the Rangers Saturday afternoon, his first three-point performance since Feb. 21 (2G-1A) at Philadelphia, which coincidentally was also the last time he scored a goal.
“It’s been a while which is a little frustrating but, hey, a goal is a goal,” Fedotenko said.
Fedotenko assisted Maxime Talbot on the game’s first goal and Sidney Crosby
on the game-winning tally. On both occasions Fedotenko alertly pushed the puck ahead to his teammates from the neutral zone and let them do the rest.
“It was great support on both of my assists,” Fedotenko said. “Max was a great support there in the our zone. I just gave it to him and he almost got the break away but he scored the goal. It was the same with Sid. I had some time. I looked up and he was skating pretty much 100 percent there. I was just giving the puck to him and watch the good stuff happen.”
Fedotenko netted his goal on a three-on-one advantage in the second period. He skated into the zone with Jordan Staal
at his side and Tyler Kennedy
trailing. Fedotenko opted to shoot but was leery to take credit for the play.
I was trying to pass it. I was trying to find the pass to Staal because I was two-on-one and I was trying to just find that spot. The defender just put the stick there and I couldn’t pass it and I just finally took the shot. - Ruslan Fedotenko
“I was trying to pass it,” Fedotenko admitted. “I was trying to find the pass to Staal because I was two-on-one and I was trying to just find that spot. The defender just put the stick there and I couldn’t pass it and I just finally took the shot.”
Perhaps Fedotenko’s big game is a result of the coaching staff’s decision to switch him to a different line. Fedotenko played on a line with Staal and Kennedy in the past two games.
“I think it was a better fit for him, playing with Staal and Kennedy,” interim head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He’s more of an up-and-down winger, a physical guy who is good along the boards and in the offensive zone. I think he’s a good player with good skills, and you can expect to have (games) like this when he plays a good game.”Team Effort
Bylsma was happy with the overall team effort in the Penguins win over the Rangers with goals from Cooke, Fedotenko and Talbot – all three players were goal-less in recent games.
“It’s good to see,” Bylsma said. “Max Talbot got a goal and an assist. Other guys like Matt Cooke
got a goal. So, it was a team win (today). It was a team win, and Ruslan, Max, and Cookie all got on the score sheet and helped us out.”The Game-WinnerSidney Crosby
netted the game-winning goal with an outstanding individual effort and a sweet pass from Fedotenko.
“Crosby is a great player and he has speed and you want to just give him the puck,” Fedotenko said. “Sometimes he let’s the defense start backing up and that gives him more of a chance to create this one-on-one, and with that speed he can beat pretty much any defender in this league and obviously just score goals.”
Crosby collected a pass from Fedotenko in the neutral zone with speed. The Penguins captain split between defensemen Derek Morris and Wade Redden before burying a shot far side on Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
“It is (encouraging),” Crosby said. “I’m getting some good passes in the neutral zone too and that makes a big difference on the timing. I’ve definitely been able to get some good speed through the neutral zone on a lot of occasions and I’m able to attack the defense or maybe draw a penalty or try to go wide or whatever the case is.”
Crosby is third in the league in scoring with 97 points (29G-68A). He has scored a point in his past 15 games and is taking his game to another level.
“I feel pretty good,” Crosby said. “I don’t know what it is, if it’s the tempo that we’re playing at now if I’m forced to skate a little bit more, or whether it’s because I feel a little bit more rested. I don’t know what it is, but I definitely feel like I’m getting chances.”Avery in the House
During the first period, Kennedy took on the infamous New York agitator, Sean Avery, in a bout that energized the Mellon Arena Crowd.
“Both of us just kind of ran into each other, it kind of happens,” Kennedy explained. “He asked me, so it was fun. I think everyone in here will fight if they think they have to.”
Kennedy’s explanation for the fight was simply that:
“He’s always trying to (hit) me and I’m always trying to (hit) him, so obviously I’m not going to be happy. He plays an aggressive game. He plays a good game and I thought he played well today. That’s his game - get in the guys’ faces and stuff - and that’s a part of my game too, so we kind of clashed a little bit. It’s part of hockey, you know.”
I think we’re a team that when the games get tough, we want to rise to the occasion. I think every guy puts it on himself to raise our level of play and be accountable out there, so when you get everyone feeling that way the team is going to benefit from it. - Sidney Crosby
“TK - he’s an energy guy,” Bylsma said. “He adds a spark to our team. He can do it in a lot of different ways – with his speed being in the offensive zone. But, at certain times in his career, he’s added that spark and (that’s) what he did tonight in that situation. Kudos to TK and kudos to the guy he did it against – that’s a guy who can do it to our team. Great job by TK.”
Avery assisted the Rangers’ first goal, but was otherwise quite in the game.
“I think we’re a team that when the games get tough, we want to rise to the occasion,” Crosby added. “I think every guy puts it on himself to raise our level of play and be accountable out there, so when you get everyone feeling that way the team is going to benefit from it.”The Penalty Box
The rivalry between the Rangers and the Penguins is a bitter one, and this game was no exception. It included two fights, and a combined total of 61 penalty minutes. The Rangers tallied 41 of those penalty minutes with eight minor penalties, three major penalties and one game misconduct - assessed to Colton Orr for a hit on Mark Eaton.
Orr came barreling toward Eaton in the corner and hit him into the boards. The Penguin blueliner hit face first into the boards/glass and stayed down on the ice for a few moments. Eaton headed to the locker room to get a few stitches but was lighthearted about the hit after the game.
“A few stitches never hurt anybody,” Eaton graciously said. “I knew it was coming so I tried to brace myself as much as I can, but I didn’t get there I guess. It got me on the nose and chin. I hit the dasher board on the way down. It wasn’t a stick or anything like that, I just got the boards on the way down.”